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      Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection in Dromedary Camels in Saudi Arabia

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          ABSTRACT

          The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is proposed to be a zoonotic disease; however, the reservoir and mechanism for transmission of the causative agent, the MERS coronavirus, are unknown. Dromedary camels have been implicated through reports that some victims have been exposed to camels, camels in areas where the disease has emerged have antibodies to the virus, and viral sequences have been recovered from camels in association with outbreaks of the disease among humans. Nonetheless, whether camels mediate transmission to humans is unresolved. Here we provide evidence from a geographic and temporal survey of camels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that MERS coronaviruses have been circulating in camels since at least 1992, are distributed countrywide, and can be phylogenetically classified into clades that correlate with outbreaks of the disease among humans. We found no evidence of infection in domestic sheep or domestic goats.

          IMPORTANCE

          This study was undertaken to determine the historical and current prevalence of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection in dromedary camels and other livestock in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the index case and the majority of cases of MERS have been reported.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Isolation of a novel coronavirus from a man with pneumonia in Saudi Arabia.

          A previously unknown coronavirus was isolated from the sputum of a 60-year-old man who presented with acute pneumonia and subsequent renal failure with a fatal outcome in Saudi Arabia. The virus (called HCoV-EMC) replicated readily in cell culture, producing cytopathic effects of rounding, detachment, and syncytium formation. The virus represents a novel betacoronavirus species. The closest known relatives are bat coronaviruses HKU4 and HKU5. Here, the clinical data, virus isolation, and molecular identification are presented. The clinical picture was remarkably similar to that of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and reminds us that animal coronaviruses can cause severe disease in humans.
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            Hospital Outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

            In September 2012, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of pneumonia caused by the novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We describe a cluster of health care-acquired MERS-CoV infections. Medical records were reviewed for clinical and demographic information and determination of potential contacts and exposures. Case patients and contacts were interviewed. The incubation period and serial interval (the time between the successive onset of symptoms in a chain of transmission) were estimated. Viral RNA was sequenced. Between April 1 and May 23, 2013, a total of 23 cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms included fever in 20 patients (87%), cough in 20 (87%), shortness of breath in 11 (48%), and gastrointestinal symptoms in 8 (35%); 20 patients (87%) presented with abnormal chest radiographs. As of June 12, a total of 15 patients (65%) had died, 6 (26%) had recovered, and 2 (9%) remained hospitalized. The median incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7), and the serial interval was 7.6 days (95% CI, 2.5 to 23.1). A total of 21 of the 23 cases were acquired by person-to-person transmission in hemodialysis units, intensive care units, or in-patient units in three different health care facilities. Sequencing data from four isolates revealed a single monophyletic clade. Among 217 household contacts and more than 200 health care worker contacts whom we identified, MERS-CoV infection developed in 5 family members (3 with laboratory-confirmed cases) and in 2 health care workers (both with laboratory-confirmed cases). Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection-control measures are critical to a global public health response.
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              Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in Bats, Saudi Arabia

              The source of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus remains unknown. Molecular investigation indicated that bats in Saudi Arabia are infected with several alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses. Virus from 1 bat showed 100% nucleotide identity to virus from the human index case-patient. Bats might play a role in human infection.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                mBio
                MBio
                mbio
                mbio
                mBio
                mBio
                American Society of Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
                2150-7511
                25 February 2014
                Mar-Apr 2014
                : 5
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [ a ]KSU Mammals Research Chair, Department of Zoology, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
                [ b ]Saudi Wildlife Authority, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
                [ c ]Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
                [ d ]Division of Intramural Research, Laboratory of Virology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, Montana, USA
                [ e ]Integrated Research Facility, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, Maryland, USA
                [ f ]EcoHealth Alliance, New York, New York, USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to Abdulaziz N. Alagaili, aalagaili@ 123456ksu.edu.sa , or Thomas Briese, tb2047@ 123456columbia.edu .

                A.N.A. and T.B. contributed equally to this article.

                Editor Arturo Casadevall, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

                Article
                mBio00884-14
                10.1128/mBio.00884-14
                3940034
                24570370
                Copyright © 2014 Alagaili et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 6
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                March/April 2014

                Life sciences

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